Lindsay Nelson, TripAdvisor
"What we now understand is people don’t actually care about 10,000 reviews, they care about the five reviews of the people they think they have something in common with."
Quote from Lindsay Nelson, president of core experience at TripAdvisor, in an article on PhocusWire this week on the platform's future.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
In 2008, TripAdvisor issued a press release to boast that the site had a reached a new high of 15 million reviews.
At the time, co-founder and CEO Steve Kaufer said he "never imagined we would achieve this growth" in the eight years it had, at that point, been in existence.
The company now says it has 760 million reviews and has, over time, collected opinions on 8.3 million bits of accommodation, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises.
These are amazing numbers and yet it's often easy to forget that the brand almost exclusively reshaped how consumers think about choosing hotels and, more recently, countless other travel products.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
But, like so many other elements of the industry, personalization is having a massive impact.
The desire at the consumer end of things for a more considered or relevant point of view on their product selection means that the big numbers no longer matter.
Lindsay Nelson's comments this week that TripAdvisor "now" understands this is an important milestone in the wider world of travel product reviews.
The reality is that TripAdvisor kind of knew this a long time ago. Trip Friends, its earlier attempt to improve the relevancy of reviews by connecting users with their Facebook friends, was abandoned in 2016.
The company is now all-in on its attempt to ensure the site is more personalized to users, beginning last year with the creation of "a new TripAdvisor" - essentially, a social network.
Yet it knows that other areas around the web, which are home to users on a far more frequent, often daily basis, are able to do the same.
This is not a bad thing, unless you're in charge of customer acquisition for other parts of the TripAdvisor experience, of course.
If every site or platform can ensure that their reviews for travel products are personalized, relevant, accurate and of sufficient quality that consumers will be inspired to buy a product and enjoy the experience, this is ultimately a good thing for the industry as a whole.
PhocusWire's regular editorials